Q: When I do a search for my parish (or district, etc), it is in your system but the name you have for it is not the one local people use. Why?

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A: There are several possible reasons:

  • Sometimes the official, "Sunday Best", name of the unit is different from the usual name of the place. A famous example is "Kingston upon Hull", for "Hull"; another one is that the town in Berkshire is called "Faringdon", but the parish containing it is "Great Faringdon".
  • The core of our system was created by computerising a series of "name authorities" identified by the National Council on Archives. For England, the most important "authority" is Frederic Youngs' Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. This is an amazing book to have been created by one man, but it does contain errors and a few of the names in it are just plain wrong. Our problem is that it has been widely used as an authority, so we cannot simply remove names we think are wrong. We are systematically adding the different forms of names that appear, for example, in census reports but so far these are usually recorded as "alternate" forms. These are included in searches, and do show up in the more formal parts of the system. However, for now the names that appear on most of our pages are those given by Youngs.
  • It is of course possible that we have made a typing mistake, but these are rare because of how we have built the system. Once we had computerised the information from Youngs, we started linking in the statistical data, which was computerised quite independently. This was done by matching the names in the statistical data with the names from Youngs. Where the two were different, we added the name from the statistical table as an "alternate", but only after we had checked that both versions of the names had been correctly typed in.

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